A Student Guide: Manchester City Guide

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Samir Badawy

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31 May, 2023

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10 mins read

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If you have decided to study and move to Manchester, you should make the best of this culturally rich city. Manchester is located in northwest England and is famed for its music and football scene. Let’s not forget the city’s high-quality education, which includes institutions such as Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Manchester

Manchester has also left a rich industrial legacy as it was the first industrial city. As a student city, the city has various unique spots to cater to students and offers multiple options for student accommodation in Manchester. Through Casita, the search for your perfect Manchester student accommodation. The process is simple, thanks to our experienced and multilingual team of accommodation experts. 

In this Manchester city guide, you will get to know everything about the city, which includes, a little brief about the city, the top things to do in the city, the top places to eat, drink, and shop, as well as a brief about your Manchester student life. This city guide will also inform you about the top attractions in the city and where to find the best student accommodation in Manchester.

About Manchester 

Manchester is located in Greater Manchester, northwest of England, with the Mersey River flowing through it. The city was always a commercial and industrial hub and was a significant market town in 1715, leading in the textile industry, most notably cotton. Through a series of developments, the city prospered further in 1851. It was the first industrial city and became the second most important city after London during the 19th century, the city’s golden age.

The city is adorned with various 19th-century buildings built during the city’s golden industrial age. The buildings have multiple styles, some drawing influences from Classic Greek buildings, including Victorian, Gothic, and steel-framed buildings. The ’60s and ’70s saw increased steel and glass buildings to cater to offices. The city’s most iconic buildings include the Royal Exchange and the Town Hall, designed by famed architect Alfred Waterhouse.

Manchester City Guide

Top Things to Do in Manchester 

Manchester offers something for everyone; this ranges from seeing the city’s natural beauty to visiting heritage sites and sports stadiums, among other activities. Some of the top things to do in Manchester include the following:

Explore Manchester’s Unique Neighbourhoods

Manchester has unique neighbourhoods, ranging from old Victorian districts to modern trendy suburbs. Some must-visit areas include the Ancoats, a trendy canalside neighbourhood filled with trendy shops, cafes and restaurants that provide beautiful canal views. 

The city centre is also a must-visit, with most tourists and travellers choosing it to explore the city to the fullest. It includes iconic landmarks such as the Central Library, Manchester Town Hall and iconic parks like the Piccadilly Gardens. 

The Northern Quarter is the hippest place in Manchester, attracting students and youth thanks to its clubs, restaurants, and shops. 

Lastly, Disdbury is a favourite among those who appreciate the greenery and quiet as this part of town has more of a village atmosphere than other parts of the city.

Explore The City’s Music Scene

Manchester hosts a large music scene displayed through its event venues, concert halls, and opera houses. Manchester has various classic opera houses and theatre halls that host various musical performances and musicals; these include the 1871-opened Royal Albert Hall, the 1891-opened Palace Theatre, the Manchester Opera House, opened in 1920, and the Royal Exchange Theatre, which was opened in 1921. Other live music halls include the Stoller Hall and the Bridgewater Hall.

Explore The City’s Art and History Scene

The city hosts various art galleries with rich collections of both classical and contemporary artwork. The best art galleries include the University of Manchester-owned Whitworth Art Gallery, which contains classic and modern art pieces, the Manchester Art Gallery, the Lowry Centre Art Centre, and HOME for film and video art.

Visit The City’s Heritage Sites

The city of Manchester is full of historical sites; these include historical libraries, parks, abbeys, and old commercial buildings. Among the top historical places to visit are the John Ryland’s Library, which was first opened in 1900, containing 25,000 printed materials and over a million manuscripts. The grade 2 listed Victoria Baths is another gem in Manchester and is built in the Edwardian style; it is dubbed “Manchester’s Water Palace” and was first opened in 1906. Grade 2 listed The Monastery Manchester is a beautiful sight built in the Victorian Gothic style. The Manchester Church is another breathtaking historical site which has been around for more than 600 years and is made in the Gothic style.

Top Places to Eat and Drink

Among the top things to do in Manchester is exploring the city’s food and beverage scene. The city is so diverse, so much so that 200 languages are spoken in the city as a result of the city’s expat community; this has also led to a culinary-rich food and beverage scene. Presented are some of our best recommendations for food and drink spots around the city.


Mana: 42 Blossom St, Ancoats, Manchester

Mana is an award-winning restaurant featured on the Michelin Guide and is among the best-known Manchester restaurants. Mana is known for its creative and modern British cuisine. The restaurant has impressive tasting courses, which include a seven-course tasting menu and an 11-course tasting menu. The chef and owner, Simon Martin, also incorporates other cuisines into the menu, such as Japanese and Nordic items.

The Spärrows: 16 Red Bank, Cheetham Hill, Manchester

The Spärrows is another local favourite and was also featured in the Michelin guide and serves up pasta and Spatzle, a central European egg noodle dish. This restaurant also serves dumplings such as Pierogi and Pelmeni.

Refuge: Oxford St, Manchester 

Refuge is a restaurant within a grade 2 listed old Victorian building founded in 1858 as the Palace Hotel. Refuge matches elegance with industrial interiors. The restaurant serves up international cuisine. Refuge is famed for its Roasts, which include individual Roasts and Roasts to share.

Cafes and Tea Houses

Takk: 6 Tariff St, Manchester

Takk is a cafe that serves artisanal coffee in three different locations in Manchester; it also serves sandwiches, brunch options, and cakes. They are known for their single-source coffee that changes weekly and also source the best coffee from around Europe.

Ezra & Gil: 20 Hilton St, Manchester

Ezra and Gil opened in 2014 and quickly became a local favourite; they serve good quality coffee with changing items as part of their monthly specials. This cafe serves coffee, salads, poke-styled bowls, pasta, and sandwiches. They have various options to cater to your dietary needs, which include vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free options.

Midland Tea Room: The Midland Hotel, Peter St, Manchester

Midland Tea Room is one of the oldest tea rooms in Manchester, dating back to 1903 since the Edwardian-styled Midland Hotel’s opening. This grade 2 listed tea room has catered to royalty, famous weddings such as the marriage of Israel Seiff and Rebecca Marks, the daughter of Marks and Spencer’s owner, and still serves traditional Afternoon Tea, which includes tea, sandwiches, scones, and cake. They also have vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.

Manchester City Guide

Where to Shop in Manchester 

Manchester Arndale

Manchester Arndale is one of Manchester’s top shopping complexes that opened in 1975. This shopping centre houses more than 200 different shops, including fashion brands, shopping places, grocery chains, places to eat, and even places to play, such as Roxy Ball Room and Immersive Gamebox. Among the top names in Manchester Arndale are Burberry, Boss, Dr Martens, Levi’s, and Zara for fashion. They also have Aldi for grocery shopping. Famous food and beverage chains include Five Guys, Costa Coffee, Pret A Manger, and Nando’s, among various other chains.

Trafford Centre

Located in Trafford, Greater Manchester, is the Trafford Centre, a short commute from Manchester City. It was first opened in 1998 and is among the biggest in Greater Manchester. The Trafford Centre has more than 280 shops, including famous brands such as All Saints, Accessorize, Calvin Klein, Footlocker, Apple, Boss, Lacoste, and Samsung, among others. It’s also got various places to eat, grocery shops, and a cinema where you can watch the newest movies.

The Northern Quarter

The Northern Quarter is known as Manchester’s Art district and is also known for its shops, including brands and boutique shops, as well as the various cafes and restaurants. It contains multiple vintage boutiques, such as Retro Rehab and the Manchester Craft and Design Centre, which houses studios offering jewellery, bags, accessories, and locally produced designs. The Northern Quarter also has various independent record stores for music lovers.

Transportation in Manchester

Manchester has excellent transportation networks with some of the most used, including:


Manchester’s tram network is called Metrolink and has 99 stops inside and outside the city, including Greater Manchester and transporting more than 52,000 individuals daily.


Manchester has a reliable bus network which covers 24 bus stops covering Manchester and Greater Manchester. There are various bus providers, the biggest being Stagecoach Manchester, Bee Network Buses, Diamon Bus Northwest, and First Bus, among others.


There are various train options that take you both within and outside the city, both in the Greater Manchester area and neighbouring cities. Some of the biggest train providers in Manchester and Greater Manchester include CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, and Northern, among other operators.


Manchester is great for cycling as it has cycle routes and rental bike providers, with the biggest belonging to Bee Network.

Student Life in Manchester

Student Life in Manchester

Manchester is one of the top student destinations for domestic and international students thanks to its prestigious universities and relatively low cost of living compared to other cities such as London. Due to its high student population, the city is full of trendy shops, restaurants, and cafes and offers a memorable student experience and fantastic nightlife. The city is also full of history and culture. Walking around will expose you to the city’s most marvellous buildings, galleries, museums, and parks.

Cost of Living in Manchester 

The average cost of living in Manchester for students is anywhere between £728 to £770 per month without rent. The student housing costs range from £120 per week to £400 per week depending on the type of student accommodation required. Some private room options in shared houses/flats in Manchester will cost as little as £110 per week. 

Most options for purposely built student accommodation in Manchester include utility bills in the rental agreement; however, if not applicable and if you choose a private housing option, you may be required to pay utility bills (gas, electricity, and water) which are on average £223.49 per month as well as internet bills which cost an average of £28.86. Utility bills are usually shared between flatmates in shared accommodation options and billed separately for studios and more private options.

Manchester Attractions

Manchester Art Gallery

The Manchester Art Gallery is one of the must-visit attractions in the city; it hosts everything from fine art to craft and design to costumes. The gallery’s collection was first developed more than 200 years ago, and today it has more than 46,000 objects from all over the world and from different art forms.

Manchester Museum

The Manchester Museum is a museum owned by the University of Manchester. It has more than 4.5 million unique items, which include everything from the natural sciences to displaying various human cultures. Some of the museum’s collections include the Egypt and Sudan collections, an Earth Sciences collection, Botany, Zoology, and Vivarium, among others.

Royal Exchange, Manchester

The Royal Exchange is an excellent 1921-established grade 2 listed building worth the visit if you’re interested in the performing arts. This building hosts workshops and various performances ranging from plays to comedy shows to musicals and is an experience that must be tried.

Heaton Park

Located on the edge of Manchester, Heaton Park is one of the city’s oldest parks, covering 600 acres. This park features an 18th-century-built country house, cafes, an animal centre, a tram museum, and various activities, which includes golf in the garden, boating in the boating lake, guided walks, beekeeping, and you can also visit the newly restored 18th-century-built country home.

National Football Museum and Stadium Tours

Manchester has a rich football culture, having two of the world’sworld’s biggest football teams, which include Manchester United and Manchester City. 

  • The National Football Museum holds the world’s most extensive football collection and archives, known as the “Football Heritage Collection”, and holds 40,000 items in its collection. In 2013, this museum’s collection became an official Designated collection by the Arts Council of England.

  • You can also visit the Manchester City playing ground and stadium called the Etihad Stadium or Manchester United’s playing ground and stadium called the Old Trafford Stadium. These stadiums offer visitors guided tours and host some of the biggest matches in the UK.

Where to Find the Best Manchester Student Accommodation

If you’re wondering where to live in Manchester as a student, the city has various unique neighbourhoods which appeal to visitors and students alike. Some of the best Manchester student accommodation neighbourhoods include the Manchester City Centre, Fallowfield, Rusholme, Oxford Road, and Didsbury. The city also features various accommodation options ranging from affordable accommodation options to luxury accommodation options.

Manchester City Centre

The Manchester City Centre is a favourite for many reasons; it is not only near various cafes and restaurants, shopping outlets, and stores but is also full of history and culture. In the city centre, you can access great green outdoor spaces, art galleries, museums, and other historical and cultural buildings.

Some of our options near the city centre include:

  • Manchester Victoria is a student accommodation in Manchester that offers studio options, facilities, and services, including a gym, a grab-and-go breakfast bar, Wi-Fi, and all bills included.

  • St. Peter’s Square is a student accommodation in Manchester which offers apartment options and offers facilities and services, including a fitness centre, a laundry room, Wi-Fi, and 24/7 assistance.


Fallowfield is a favourite among students and young professionals. The suburb offers lots of green spaces thanks to its extensive Platt Fallowfield Park and amazing nightlife thanks to its many cafes and restaurants. Regarding student accommodation, Fallowfield is full of options, each with its unique character.

Some of our options near Fallowfield include the following:

  • Weston Court is a student accommodation in Manchester near Fallowfield and offers non-ensuite rooms in shared flats or two-bedroom apartments. Some services and facilities offered include a laundry facility, an on-site staff team, Wi-Fi, and all bills included.


Rusholme is a fantastic place to live for students thanks to its unique characteristic of old Victorian buildings and vast Asian food scene, which gave it the nickname “the curry mile”. Rusholme also offers green areas like Platt Fields Park and has excellent transportation links to the city centre.

Some of our options near Rusholme include: 

  • Rusholme Place is a student accommodation in Manchester providing various room options, which range from en-suite rooms to one-bedroom flats to studios. Some of the service provided includes 24/7 security, all bills included in the rent, and free Wi-Fi, among other services. 


Didsbury is another student favourite, which still retains a village-like atmosphere and is full of parks and a fantastic selection of places to eat and drink. This suburb also has a unique and independent community and has various listed buildings built in the 18th century. It is near the city centre and relatively quieter than other neighbourhoods in Manchester.

For more information on the city, feel free to search for our various Manchester-related blogs, for information related to student accommodation in Manchester, you can contact one of our accommodation experts and they’ll provide all the help you need!


1. Where can I find Manchester Student Homes?

You can find the best options for Manchester student homes in the City Centre, Fallowfield, Rusholme, and Didsbury, among other choices, at Casita.

2. Why Move to Oxford Road, Manchester?

 Oxford Road has two of Manchester’s universities and unique architecture, theatres, and museums.


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